Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014
March 25th, 2014
12:18 PM ET
8 years ago

Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014

Washington (CNN) - A leading Democratic pollster predicted a "sobering" turnout disadvantage for her party in this year's midterm elections and called on Democrats to articulate "a bigger economic agenda" this fall.

"There is a huge turnout disadvantage and challenge," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said Tuesday at a breakfast with reporters. "There is always a challenge in turnout in an off year, but it's really dramatic this time."

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Lake was speaking a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Lake and Republican pollster Ed Goeas revealed results of a new George Washington University poll that showed GOP voter intensity in 2014 outpacing Democratic intensity by seven points.

The poll indicated that 64% of Republicans say they are "extremely likely" to vote in November's midterms, compared with 57% of Democrats.

"I think we saw it play out in the Florida special," Lake said, referring to the GOP's special election victory earlier this month in Florida's 13th Congressional district. She called the Republican turnout machine in that race "darn effective," and said Democrats should not underestimate the GOP's get-out-the-vote operation this year.

"There are some people on our side who gloat about the Democrats' turnout advantage and kind of miss the Republican turnout operation," she said. "We tend to be dismissive of it, but it was very effective."

It's worth noting that voter intensity is an imprecise predictor of performance: In a George Washington University poll in mid-October 2012, weeks before President Obama won re-election and Democrats retained control of the Senate, Republicans had an 8-point lead over Democrats on the same likely-to-vote question.

Still, that was a presidential year, in which Democratic turnout jumped. Today, President Obama's approval ratings are grim, threatening midterm candidates in his party. Lake pointed to a several glimmers of hope for Democrats, though, including advantages over Republicans on issues like Medicare and Social Security that are important to older voters who play a larger role in non-presidential elections. As for the party base, she said "Democrats are very united and satisfied with their party."

What we learned from Florida-13

Lake said Democratic candidates must weave their policies and day-to-day campaign messages into a larger frame "solely focused on middle class populist economics."

"Democrats need to articulate a bigger economic agenda to really solidify this election," she said. "We talk about minimum wage, child care, and these are very popular policies. But we need a more muscular bigger economic agenda laid out there. "

Lake later said that "Democrats need to be on the side of small business. We need to be more aggressive and comfortable being on the side of small business."

The poll indicated that Republicans are fractured and hold their party in low esteem, with 61% of Republicans saying they are not pleased with the direction of the GOP. But Goeas pointed to the party's advantages when it comes to dealing with the economy, taxes and the federal budget - as well as President Obama's disapproval rating.

The survey showed that most Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers, the billionaire businessmen behind a constellation of well-funded conservative groups gunning to put Congress in GOP control. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have sought to raise the Kochs' profile in recent weeks, hoping to tie Republicans to shadowy corporate interests.

"Trying to make the Koch brothers into red meat is going to be about as effective as what we tried to do for several cycles with George Soros," Goeas said. "Most people don’t know who they are."


Filed under: 2014 • Polls
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. steve

    No more "thrills" up the legs of stupid low info democrats? Too bad.

    March 25, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Enough is Enough

    @Abbey – Don't count on it. The biggest problem for the GOP will be if they are overconfident in a victory. The GOP needs to get out the vote.

    March 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Big_D

    The more people vote the better Democrats do. Seems to me that shows they represent more people with jobs.

    March 25, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Big_D

    Democrats need to do a better job scaring old people into voting for them like the GOP does. Just tell them a GOP senate will privatize SS and Medicare and they will lose their benefits. It isn't even lying.

    March 25, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Desperate times - desperate tactics!

    November 2014; time to eat your pablum Liberals!

    March 25, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. BostonFred

    So which party cares about the middle class? Neither. So neither should get any votes except from the rich and poor.

    March 25, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. thunderbolt

    Wrong again.................Politicians should say what they stand for and then stand by those words. I guess that's why the tea party gets hit from all sides. They did what we elected them to do. That will mean re-election for most of them. When will you elites understand that the people you supposedly represent, want you to be what you say you are, and stand where you say you will stand.............I'm so sick of politicians evolving so they don't have to admit they are a bald faced liar..............If you want to know the truth, I hope the lies of the last five years cost you every seat up for re-election. I will never....never.....never vote for another dem as long as i live. I am an independent, but you can't trust a dem on anything that involves rights, freedoms, or somebody losing their wallet in a bathroom stall.......................

    March 25, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. NOPhah Kingweigh

    HMMMM. Is this the same group who was absolutely convinced we would inaugurate a president Rmoney? The Guns Over People party is a dinosaur flailing in the tar pits, vainly hoping for one more shot at credibility. Stick a fork in them. Yup, they're done.

    March 25, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Michael Bertrand

    At 63, I am for the first time considering staying away from voting. I have never been more disappointed in my country or its people and I see no one able to even initiate the very basic changes we need. It is my opinion that we have already lost our freedom and mobility to a plutocratic oligarchy and the young people don't even know it.
    Good luck to us all...the experiment in freedom was fun while it lasted....IMHO

    March 25, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. thunderbolt

    Yeah, I figured it would.........................hurts....don't it?

    March 25, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Chris B.

    Ah, here we go... The MSM already overplaying democrat turnout worries to help get out the vote.

    March 25, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. thunderbolt

    Thank god someone put the breaks on or we would already be bankrupt. Obama is as much a leader as I am a bird. He has lead us around in circles for five years now......Only difference is we were a lot richer as a country before he took office. His policies, if they stay intact will finish the job he started.............

    March 25, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. jdalco

    Koch brothers please. . Look at the facts and you find far more big money supporters backing the Dems. . . Both sides have big money folks backing them. . this is why we need a good third option.

    March 25, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Dean

    All thanks to Obama. Once he's out, we'll hit the 'reset' button and get the country back on track.

    March 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Dr. Mantis

    No problem, just promise free stuff we can't pay for and the liberal parasites will go to the polls in droves...

    March 25, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  16. sam

    They need to articulate a agenda about helping the middle class economies, AND THEN ACTUALLY DO IT!!!

    March 25, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Cynic

    Anyone who thinks that there will be heaven on earth if his stupid party wins the election is only fooling himself.

    March 25, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    Thunderbolt – Obama is a leader, so does that make you "chicken little?"

    March 25, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Rick McDaniel


    Obama has no intention of losing at the polls.........and he will do whatever is necessary, including registering people who do not exist, to accomplish his goals.

    March 25, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Well Mantis, I am an Obama supporter and two time voter. What free stuff might you be talking about? Because I take care of myself with no help from anyone.
    I haven't been promised anything or given anything free.
    Care to elaborate? (Explain) Or is that what Rush told you to say?

    March 25, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. thunderbolt

    Man, everything you guys say end up being proven a lie. There was nothing to fast and furious....lie There was nothing to Benghazi....lie There was nothing to Solyndra.......Lie again. There was nothing with Eric Holders refusal to do his friggin job.....lie once more...........There was nothing to the IRS scandal.....another blatant lie. You can keep your doctor, you can keep your hospital......biggest lie told in the last decade.... You will save 2500 a year on insurance.....costliest lie so far.........what do all these liberal, dem lies have in common?? The tea party got it right in every case....... Liberals are more educated...another lie to make you feel better about yourself...............we won't try to take your guns.....lie.... Does any dems have any morality, integrity, or even common sense left anymore...........Don't answer, haven't I listed enough for one day.........................

    March 25, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. thunderbolt

    Obama is a did he lead you too......what has he done as a leader? beside screw up everything he touches because he don't understand the complexities to it. Without his teleprompter, heck, the man can't even speak............leader my butt. He coulds lead you anywhere, that is obvious, but sorry, that doesn't make him a leader.............................Signed......chicken

    March 25, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. GREG

    Turnout in November her in Florida is going to be huge because medicinal marijuana is on the ballot. Hoping for a landslide in giving Governor Scott the boot.

    March 25, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. jimj

    Breaking News: Flash: "Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the Ship at sea: Lett's go to Press". A large number of longhair new and revised hippie ladies with the look of he hysterical religious fanatic have been seen headed towards the Nations Capital. When asked what they were going to do, the reply was to "Re-enact the the Ancient Roman rite that Roman Elite women did when the Republic was in danger by sweeping with their hair the steps of the Capitoline and moaning incoherent verses of loud gibberish". Who are these enemies, they were asked. "Why the Tea Party freaks of course". "And we intend to sweep clean the Capitol steps of the last traces of any tea they might have left, so we the en-lightened left can present to America a more perfect and accurate society".


    March 25, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Joe

    "Thank god someone put the breaks on or we would already be bankrupt. Obama is as much a leader as I am a bird. He has lead us around in circles for five years now......Only difference is we were a lot richer as a country before he took office. His policies, if they stay intact will finish the job he started"
    1. Your road to bankruptcy started long before President Obama took office. Please share some of your online "posts" from before he took office. Examples: all the "wars" and "conflicts" we've conveniently entered into since the 1960s and are still paying for, the "aid" we've been giving to other countries for decades with ABSOLUTELY nothing to show for it, the billions we've spent on military weapons and technology on to "scrap" it after a few years but line the pockets of Congressmen who engage in insider trading, and so on.

    2. How much "richer" were we? Show us the EXACT numbers. Also, show us your numbers. How much less "rich" are you and what's the DIRECT link between your being less "rich" (if that's the case) and anything President Obama has done. Share your income statements from 2007 (before he was elected) and from last year (2013).

    3. How will his policies "finish" the job as opposed to what has been in place before and since he became President? Provide some DIRECT evidence please.

    To you (and others like you): If you're going to make such claims, and expect us not to look at you like a circus clown, provide some DIRECT evidence, e.g., some calculations, expert analysis, etc. Otherwise, keep your little "thoughts" in your small head.

    March 25, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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